Politness and Face theory Theres more to co-operation than following the maxims, we also need to be polite Co-operation is vital to conversation, but without politeness, all is lost. Co-operation Erving Goffman was intrigued by what lay behind
everyday expressions such as losing face, saving face and being shamefaced. Face is the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a personal contact. Goffmans Face Face = the image that we present of
ourselves to others. Irving Goffman. 1955 Goffman Face Theory Goffman says our face is like a persona which we present in a conversation. It changes from situation to
situation. For example, in one situation you might want to present the face of a good friend, whilst in another you may want to appear to be a knowledgeable student. Face is maintained by the audience, not by the speaker. This is achieved by the listener accepting the face being presented by the speaker, and just generally being sensitive towards them. Examples of how this politeness is shown include:
Using appropriate forms of address Speaking to others in a way that is appropriate to the social relationship you have with them Speaking with a degree of formality appropriate on the occasion Understanding the conventions of language associated with particular situations (e.g. accepting or refusing an invitation, beginning and ending a conversation) Understanding the conventions of turn taking. Brown and Levinson Politeness. 1987
They developed Goffmans theory of face into a theory of politeness: positive and negative face Having regard for another persons face or image is an important aspect of politeness. Brown and Levinson said that we meet the needs of face through positive and negative politeness.
Language or actions that reject the face someone presents to us e.g. you dont know how to manage this shop. Turning your back on someone speaking to you. This clearly has implications in terms of power and status in conversation. Also face threatening acts are making impositions on people e.g. Making requests or giving orders. Although this type of face threatening act cannot be avoided, people try to mitigate the impact by speaking in an indirect way.
Face Threatening Acts (FTA) Negative Face the desire to feel unimpeded, i.e. the freedom from feeling imposed upon by the interaction. Positive Face the desire to feel approved of, i.e. to maintain a positive and consistent self-image during the interaction.
Positive / Negative face Positive politeness This is when you show people that they are liked, admired or included. Paying them compliments eg. what a lovely dress
Taking an interest in their wellbeing eg how are you? Making it obvious you enjoy their company eg this is nice Making gestures of friendship Paying attention to the other speaker (show interest, sympathy, approval) Seeking agreement and common ground(often by choosing safe topics) Avoiding disagreement (pretend to agree, tell white-lies) Making jokes using friendly/inclusive language (making assumptions - "alright if I just...") using colloquial language showing you're on an equal footing.
Negative Politeness This is when you show that you are avoiding intruding on the other persons life, are not imposing your presence or prying into their personal affairs or to (seem to) offer a choice. Language that is indirect, apologetic and respectful. Saying excuse me before asking for something Being pessimistic e.g. I know this is a stupid idea. Giving deference e.g. yes Sir Being apologetic e.g. sorry to bother you, but Being indirect e.g. I dont seem to have a pen with me
Offering a choice e.g. could you Positive politeness used between people in a hierarchy can be used to reduce social distance. e.g. a manager suggesting to a subordinate that they use their first name: Call me Sue- a gesture of friendship. Makes the employee feel more on an equal footing. Brown and Levinson have found we tend to use negative
politeness more than positive, partially because that's our cultural bias in the UK, and partially because negative politeness is just more polite than positive politeness. Close your mouth when you eat, you fat swine. FTA You have such beautiful teeth. I wish I didnt see them when you eat.
FTA using Positive politeness I know youre pretty hungry and that steak is a bit tough, but I would appreciate it if you would chew with your mouth closed. FTA
using negative politeness I wonder how far a persons lips can stretch yet remain closed when eating? Indirect FTA
Whats going on here? negative Sorry to have bothered you with all this information but youre all so clever and good-looking Im sure positive youll have no trouble using it
Spot the negative and positive politeness!! Now well analyse transcript 5 together, looking for politeness strategies as well as co-operation ( maxims.) Task
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